Troost Avenue traditionally has been the stark dividing line between black and white communities in Kansas City. Local leaders hope it can become a bridge that builds unity through the power of prayer.
Pray on Troost, a 10-mile human prayer chain, is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, which also is Junetenth, an important day in the black community. Area pastors are inviting Christians across Kansas City to join in the prayer vigil.
Pastor Cassandra Wainwright, President of Concerned Clergy in Kansas City, added “We just wanted to say that Troost has been historically known as a racially divided line for Kansas City.”
“This is a unified community response to address racism, to pray on Troost,” Wainwright said, “We’ve been inspired to do this by something that Mr. Jonathan Thomas, a civil rights leader in Ferguson, Mo., did” after the 2014 protests.
Wainwright appeared in a video alongside Greg Ealy, lead pastor of Colonial Presbyterian Church and Adam Cox who pastors Navah Church KC.
“For years we’ve been gathering together as leaders of various organizations saying we’ve got to do something with nobody’s name on it,” states Ealy. “We are trying to do something that has nobody’s name on it. If five people show up and no one else comes, we’re gonna pray and seek God’s face.”
The Citywide Prayer Movement has for years, brought churches of all denominations and colors together for the betterment of Kansas City and prayer for spiritual renewal. The organization quickly got behind the Pray on Troost event.
“When we heard about this opportunity to pray together on Troost Avenue, our team sensed this was God-breathed,” stated Pastor Gary Schmitz, founder and director of the Citywide Prayer Movement. “We can only see a historic change for good if we all work together.”
Ealy adds that this is not an ending. “This is not an excuse to eliminate ‘white guilt’. This is not an opportunity for suburban churches to pat themselves on the back,” he stated. “This is an opportunity for people to stand up and say this is a beginning point and we’re going to move forward.”
Organizers have several recommendations for participants:
- Pick a spot. Drive down the street until you find an empty strip of sidewalk along the east side of Troost. Park legally anywhere along Troost or the side streets.
- Pick a word. Take a piece of white tape, write your prayer in one word with a Sharpie and place the word on your mask. Examples include peace, unity, love, hope, justice, humility, heal and mercy.
- Take a stand. Stand side by side (socially distanced 6 feet apart) on the sidewalk to form a human prayer chain. Please don’t stand in the street, in the middle of intersections or in front of business or home entrances. This is a peaceful call to prayer. If someone asks you to move, walk down a little (there are 10 miles of sidewalk) and pray there.
- Pray for reconciliation and restoration. You will probably be the only person who hears your prayer, but every prayer counts and we know it will be a mighty sound in heaven.
- Learn and commit. Educate yourself about the history of Kansas City.
“The faith community in Kansas City is joining together to form a human prayer chain on Troost Avenue to break the chains of injustice,” Schmitz said. “Troost Avenue has historically been a dividing line in our city, but we will stand side by side (socially distanced) as brothers and sisters in solidarity against injustice and division. With a unified voice, we will turn this place of pain into a place of prayer.”
Adam Cox has actually lived on Troost for 17 years. He’s invested his life and ministry in the area and the violence and poverty that hinders many in the black community. He’s also seen it as a dividing racial line.
In an emotional moment on the video, Cox shared his heart bout the prayer effort. “I wanted to say I don’t want to be silent any more. I want to put all that I am, all of my heart into seeing this go forward. We want to work towards long-term change towards repentance in this city.”
For more information, please visit www.prayontroost.org.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice Editor